Today’s superintendents are becoming inundated with mounds of paperwork. You need to fill out a form just to be able to fill out a form. Ok, so maybe that’s a little too exaggerated. When I look at the construction industry today from where we were 20 years ago, one thing is for sure. The number of forms needing to be completed on a construction project have dramatically increased. What use to be a daily sheet has now become a stack of 20-30 forms!
“I believe the largest driving force to this insane increase of non-productive work is safety record keeping. Yes, safety is a real concern but the record keeping side of it serves little towards saving human life as much as it does risk management. More specifically, the liability if the documents are not completed.”
We were a sub-contractor and the first concrete subcontractor to be awarded VPP (Voluntary Protection Program) status by the Department of Labor. We designed a set of forms to meet OSHA requirements that allof our employees used. Many times we were required to complete the same information on the general contractors form. We have even seen the project owner requiring the same forms per contract requirements!
With the battle on forms and collecting redundant information, how does production efficiency even stand a chance? The field management is concerned about losing their job if a form is not completed and signed by all crew members. They are spending less and less time on planning and producing.
So how can we solve this problem? I would like to throw out some of my thoughts and ask anyone interested to participate is offering solutions. The effort is worth the time if we can reduce the stress and wasted time that this problem is causing on the craftsmen building the projects.
The use of technology, if done right, can be very effective. Too many times the solution is decided by someone without having boots on the ground. What if we were to use a cloud database to input each piece of information needed. Every box that needs checked, every yes/no answer, every date/time, every question asked, every point needing made. anything needed by the project including subcontractors, general contractors, construction managers, or owner could be found on the database.
Once we have a list of all the fields required, we delete all the ones that are identical or repeated. We also indicate which ones can be used multiple times and the duration they can be used. We now have only the fields that are required to be answered by field personnel. Now scan all the forms into a digital PDF format or similar form fill type document. This includes daily sheets, equipment inspections, trenching, rigging. The list goes on and on. Place all the required fields on the forms needed for the project. Organize the forms by frequency required, daily, weekly, monthly, and occurrence, etc. As the first form is completed, the data collected is stored in a live database. As each of the other required forms are selected to be completed, the fields are populated from previously completed forms as long as those fields can be repeated. The efficiency of completing all the forms will be greatly streamlined.
With the use of technology, a standardized format of the fields required could be established with OSHA and other requiring agencies. We could incorporate production and quality into these forms and greatly help the effectiveness of what we are trying to accomplish. Next we need to help train the craftsmen that lack technology experience. On larger projects having a college intern mentor along side the skilled and experienced craftsman has work effectively. Production, Quality and Safety should work together not against each other. Ultimately the goal is the protection of human lives and the self-esteem of a job well done by every craftsman.
Your comments and suggestions will be greatly appreciated.